Journal of Medical Systems

, 39:157 | Cite as

Learning from Colleagues about Healthcare IT Implementation and Optimization: Lessons from a Medical Informatics Listserv

  • Martha B. Adams
  • Bonnie Kaplan
  • Heather J. Sobko
  • Craig Kuziemsky
  • Kourosh Ravvaz
  • Ross Koppel
Education & Training
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Education & Training


Communication among medical informatics communities can suffer from fragmentation across multiple forums, disciplines, and subdisciplines; variation among journals, vocabularies and ontologies; cost and distance. Online communities help overcome these obstacles, but may become onerous when listservs are flooded with cross-postings. Rich and relevant content may be ignored. The American Medical Informatics Association successfully addressed these problems when it created a virtual meeting place by merging the membership of four working groups into a single listserv known as the “Implementation and Optimization Forum.” A communication explosion ensued, with thousands of interchanges, hundreds of topics, commentaries from “notables,” neophytes, and students – many from different disciplines, countries, traditions. We discuss the listserv’s creation, illustrate its benefits, and examine its lessons for others. We use examples from the lively, creative, deep, and occasionally conflicting discussions of user experiences – interchanges about medication reconciliation, open source strategies, nursing, ethics, system integration, and patient photos in the EMR – all enhancing knowledge, collegiality, and collaboration.


Listserv Electronic medical record Implementation Social networking Health information technology 



The authors gratefully acknowledge those who granted permission to quote their listserv postings from, the contributions of the Forum members, the volunteer analysis team’s inspiration, and the work already accomplished to create a database of educational resources. We also are grateful to Donald Schnader of IVR Care Transition Systems for his very helpful technical expertise.

Conflict of interest



  1. 1.
    Bekhuis, T., Kreinacke, M., Spallek, H., and O’Donnell, J., Using natural language processing to enable in-depth analysis of clinical messages posted to an Internet mailing list: a feasibility study. J Med Internet Res 13(4):e98, 2011. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Murty, S., Gilmore, K., Richards, K., and Altilio, T., Using a LISTSERV™ to develop a community of practice in end-of-life, hospice, and palliative care social work. J Soc Work End Life Palliat Care 8:77–101, 2012. doi: 10.1080/15524256.2011.65285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hew, K. F., and Hara, N., An online listserv for nurse practitioners: a viable venue for continuous nursing professional development? Nurse Educ Today 28(4):450–7, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Thompson, T. L., and Penprase, B., RehabNurs-L: an analysis of the rehabilitation nursing LISTSERV experience. Rehabil Nurs 29(2):56–61, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wentzer, H. S., and Bygholm, A., Narratives of empowerment and compliance: Studies of communication in online patient support groups. Int J Med Inform 82(12):e386–e394, 2013. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2013.01.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hwang, K. O., Ottenbacher, A. J., Green, A. P., Cannon-Diehl, M. R., Richardson, O., Bernstam, E. V., and Thomas, E. J., Social support in an Internet weight loss community. Int J Med Inform 79:5–13, 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fleurence, R. L., Beal, A. C., Sheridan, S. E., Johnson, L. B., and Selby, J. V., Patient-powered research networks aim to improve patient care and health research. Health Affair 33(7):1212–1219, 2014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Heritage, J., and Clayman, S., Introduction. In: Talk in actions: interactions, identities and institutions. Wiley-Blackwell, Boston, pp. 1–3, 2010.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Markham, A., and Baym, N., Internet Inquiry: Dialog among Scholars. Sage, Thousand Oaks, 2009.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kaplan B, Koppel R, Kuziemsky C, Ravvaz K, Sobko H, and Adams MB. Insights from the Implementation Forum’s Discussions: What thirty percent of AMIA members say about HIT implementation and use. Paper and Presentation Slides in the Proceedings of the AMIA 2013 Annual Symposium; 2013 Nov 18, Washington, DC. Accessed 22 September 2014
  11. 11.
    Hine, C., Virtual Methods: Issues in social research on the Internet. Berg, Oxford, 2005.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kaplan, B., and Maxwell, J. A., Qualitative research methods for evaluating computer information systems. In: Anderson, J. G., and Aydin, C. E. (Eds.), Evaluating the organizational impact of healthcare information systems, 2nd edition. Springer, New York, pp. 30–55, 2005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha B. Adams
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Bonnie Kaplan
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Heather J. Sobko
    • 7
  • Craig Kuziemsky
    • 8
  • Kourosh Ravvaz
    • 9
  • Ross Koppel
    • 10
    • 11
    • 12
    • 13
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Division of Clinical Informatics, Department of Community and Family MedicineDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Duke Center for Health InformaticsDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Yale Center for Medical InformaticsYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  5. 5.Yale Interdisciplinary Center for BioethicsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  6. 6.The Information Society Project at Yale Law SchoolYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  7. 7.Founder, IVR Care Transition SystemsBirminghamUSA
  8. 8.Telfer School of ManagementUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  9. 9.Biomedical and Health Informatics ProgramUniversity of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA
  10. 10.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  11. 11.Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Medical SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  12. 12.LDI, Wharton SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  13. 13.WyncoteUSA

Personalised recommendations